May 4, 2021

How International Students Can Maximize their Jobsearch


Episode Highlights

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In this episode, Careerwell Co-founder Matt Massucci was joined by Thy Nguyen and Kem Onajole, of the Career Services Office at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Looking for a job is hard, looking for a job when many employers don’t understand OPT or CPT work authorizations is even harder. So what do you do? Educate yourself and then educate prospective employers.

Tune into this previously recorded webinar to learn more.

Episode Transcript

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Thy Nguyen. When I’m associate vice provost for career services, Illinois Tech. And we’re really happy to have all of you here today for what we think is going to be a really informative program. Before I introduce our panelists, I just want to tell you a little bit about career services and let you know that we are here to support you.

We realize that it is definitely a challenging time in the job market. For, for all our students, but especially, you know, for our students that are in for you, you know, that are international. With the the pandemic and what’s happening. We have certainly seen a slowdown in hiring, but I want to reassure you that we are definitely here to support you in your job search efforts.

We’re open to your feedback and going into the fall semester. We’re going to be rolling out a whole litany of online and virtual programs, including virtual career fairs, we’re going to offer virtual programs and sessions. And I do a lot of things in a hybrid mode as well similar to the university.

So we really want to be here to support your efforts. You can definitely feel free to reach out to myself or any member of my team as it relates to your career planning needs. But again, I want to reassure you that we’re going to be there for you to assist you with your job search. So leading up to that what we’re doing today is really a panel that’s really focused on, I think, a really important topic.

And that’s really both understanding the process of curricular practical training and optional, practical training from the employer perspective and especially how that applies to you in terms of your job search. We realized it was a lot of information to digest. And that you may have a lot of questions as well, but they’re really the goal for today is how do you best present yourself?

And really share knowledge to employers about both opt and CPT. Because from my own conversations, I realized that there’s a lot of misconceptions that could be out there even from the employer side of things as well. So we want to give you at least as a starting point, the information you need to be successful.

As you embark on your job search, regardless of where an internship full-time or anything else that that’s similar. So with that said, I’ll allow our panelists to introduce themselves. And Kenny, why don’t we, why don’t we start with you? Okay, thanks T good afternoon, everyone. My name is cameo Joey.

I am the director of the international center at Illinois tech. We are the office that many of you may be aware of. You have worked with we take care of all students on immigration concerns when you are here. So things related to CPT, opt stem, opt extending your I 20 and things like that. We take care of that for you, my staff and myself, or seven of us we’re here to support you and, and all our students as we head into a very interesting fall semester.

So thank you so much for being here this afternoon. I am sure that it will be worth your while. Thank you. Thanks Kenny, and a relief to know Kenny, you are one of the smartest people. I know when it comes to all the issues related to this Kevin was on a panel the other day for a new and I was, I was amazed, Kimmy by your level of knowledge.

So that, that was interesting with, thank you. Thanks T yeah. Next we have Matt Masucci. Matt, do you wanna introduce yourself as well? Yeah, absolutely. Thanks T for having me on and also working with you on this Kenny. So my name is madness hoochie. I’m the founder and CEO of higher wealth or Chicago based talent acquisition firm.

We’ve been in business going on 20 years. Have you focused on partnering with high-growth tech companies, but, you know, help serve, you know, solve and sort of answer their talent acquisition needs. So as again, having done this for almost 20 years, we’ve seen a pretty interesting. You know, you in the market.

And you know, when you know, the COVID hit back in March, we made the conscious effort to, you know, broaden sort of our offerings and what we do for people. And then one of the things. You launched an additional business called career wealth. So we’ve helped do, is help people kind of get better at their job search.

So through my conversations with, with T and some other people in career services, we, you know, recognize that, you know, an opportunity to help people you know, understand how to put your best foot forward, how to, you know, look for a job and kind of the most cutting edge and in practical ways. And you know, our conversations is, you know, international students are, you know, in a particular.

You know, a challenging point. I mean, it’s, it’s hard for anybody looking for jobs right now, but when you have kind of the additional variables of, you know you know, being on an OTT or there’s something along those lines, it’s educating employers on how to talk through those and then helping them understand what those mean are her valuable.

So that’s really what we’re looking to solve and sort of help answer for all of you in today’s session. That’s great. Thank you, Matt. And again, you know, we want to do today is really make this more conversational. What you’ll notice on your zoom screen is that there’s a Q and a section. So please post all your questions to the Q and a section.

I’ll do my best to really moderate as we go along with the specific questions that you have, and I’m amazed that we have 38 participants as well. So it’s great to see the number of folks joining in. But to get things started, you know, I’ve got a couple questions for both of you.

So Kenny, this question is a little bit more directed at you, but Matt feel free to chime in as well. I think, you know, a good starting point we’re really providing just a really quick Kimia high level overview of opt CPT, especially, you know, from your perspective, in terms of your, your office and so forth.

And the one thing I want to add to that, you know, I think one of the misconceptions that’s out there is that. Opt CPT our employer sponsorship. And that’s not the case. There is a distinction between the two, but that often is a, is a point of confusion. So Kenny or Matt, you know, if you want to talk a little bit about that as well, but we’ll, we’ll start there.

Okay. So let me start I normally explain this as if it’s a continuum, like, you know, you’re starting from one point and then you’re going to the very point, the very end, rather. So the, the, the first thing I’ll talk about very high level, not specific to anyone or any situation is curricular practical training CPT.

This is when this is the authorization that allows you to work with an employer in the U S after you have spent one year in status as a student. Okay. So once you have been registered full time for at least two consecutive semesters in the U S you are then eligible to approach an employer.

Obtain an offer letter from them. You bring that off a letter to the international center, you do a few paperwork, and then we give you an updated  that will list the information of the employer on that eight 20. It would have a name of the employer, the address, the start date and the end date of the employer.

So that’s CPT at Illinois tech CPT can be for part-time or full-time. Depending on what you find. So we do allow for students to be enrolled, so to speak for full-time or part-time CPT. So that’s CPT you do it. It’s more an internship. So that’s why it’s called curricular. It’s attached to your curriculum.

It does not need to be required for you to graduate. It just enhances what you’re learning in the classroom. Which is why it’s called curricular practical training. It gives you outside of the classroom experience, match with what you’re learning. So if you’re an accounting major, for example, or finance major, if you were an account accounting intern, for example, that would be CPT CPT.

Again can be part-time full-time it can be paid or unpaid mostly at it. We normally stress that CPT is paid. So that our students are not taken advantage of by any employer, but the regulation does allow for you to do part-time or to do unpaid or paid CPT. Okay. So if we, if it shifted, shifted a little bit to the middle there’s opt, this is optional practical training.

This is the work authorization that allows you to work after you are done with your program, your academic program. All right. With CPT, you need to have a job in hand before you can apply. So you have an offer letter from a us company with opt. However, you do not need to have a job in hand to apply for opt with opt.

You start the process with the international center. We give you an I 20 that you then use to apply with USC I S, which is immigration. And then once approved, they send you the card and the, the EAD card looks kind of like an ID card. It has your picture, your name, your date of birth, and then it would have the start and the end date of the EAD on it.

All right. Most of the time, all our students and this is nationwide in the us when you apply for opt it’s for 12 months. Again, optional practical training. So in the first instance of CPT, the employer is not sponsoring your work authorization. They’re just giving you an awful letter. Like they would, anyone also for opt, you do not need to have a job offer in hand before you can apply.

You apply for the work of authorization. Once you’re approved, you show that to your employer and then they use it for your hiring paperwork for you to work. So again, in that status, there is no th the employer is not required to sponsor your immigration. You can work for any employer, as long as the job that you are doing relate to your field of study.

So like the example that I gave earlier, where I said, if you an accounting major and you got an internship in an accounting law firm, or let’s say you’re an architecture major and you got an internship in an accounting in an in architectural firm. Right for opt the work can be part-time. It can be full-time it can be paid.

It can be unpaid as well. Although I know that for most people they would want the paid position, which makes sense. All right. Right. And then last but not least for the sake of this conversation, there’s stem opt and stem is S T E M, which stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. This means that if you are.

Obtaining a major in sciences, technology, engineering, or math, which is a lot of the majors that we have at Illinois tech, you will then be eligible to extend your opt for an additional 24 months. So, let me rewind a little bit. The first opt that every international student is eligible for is for 12 months.

That’s any major music, psychology, computer science. You get 12 months. If you graduate, however, With a stem major, then you’re able to extend that opt for two more years, meaning that when you graduated from it, you are able to work for a us employer without the U S employer sponsoring you for up to three years.

If you are a stem major, I will say that the majority of our majors that I T are stem based. We our architecture programs, many of them are stem. Our design program is stem, of course, computer science, college of engineering, all of the majors, college of science or stem. So many of our students are tied to it for up to three years after they graduate.

And I’ll say this, and then I’ll, I’ll stop talking for now. While you’re on opt and stem opt, you are still in F1 status. IT is still your sponsor for immigration. You still have to deal with our office while you’re in that status. The only time that you’re no longer an on F1 is let’s say you.

Decide to permanently leave the U S and you go back home or you go to another country or you change status to like H one B. At that point, you are no longer a student. You’re no longer someone who’s on opt or stem opt. One quick point that I want to sneak in that I just remembered. While you are in the U S as an international student, you get opt for each academic level.

So, if you do a bachelor’s degree, you get 12 months plus 24 months. If you’re a step and then masters the same thing, and then PhD, the same thing it’s per level not program. So if you do two master’s degree, you only get 12 plus 24 because it’s per academic level. And with that, I will hand things over back to ti thank you, Kenny.

Again. We’re lucky to have Kenny. She is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to these processes and does a great job of staying up to date as well. I see a few specific questions. We’ll get to those in just a bit. But I I’d like to turn it over to you, Matt, to talk a little bit about, you know, your experience in working with employers.

And you know, one of the, one of the conversations we had early on was really, you know, what you shared with me is that a lot of employers actually don’t understand the hiring process for international students. Can you share a little bit about that in terms of your own experience? Yeah, absolutely. T and Kemi, that was a phenomenal overview.

And you know, in our kind of philosophy is people are job seekers is. You want to be able to educate prospective employers about the situation? You know, what I’ve seen over the last five to 10 years is, you know, especially kind of in small, mid sized organizations, which are frankly growing and hiring the most right now is they’re, they’re fairly unsophisticated when it comes to these topics.

So by, you know, by. Taking control of your own job search and really be proactive and communicating your situation and what that means for prospective employers. And that is frankly, it’s not that complicated. It’s going to go a long way. And you know, I, I think that was sort of my main point with what, you know, what can you say.

Is, you know, it’s probably a foreign concept to you. All of that, that you know, that people in our, in our country are employers in particular, are this, you know, sort of. Uneducated when it comes to some of the, you know, the situations with it. So what do we also, the courage to just, again, take control of your career, be able to explain your situation, what that means, and frankly, what, what the, what the burden is for them.

But if they hire someone who is on an OBT or LPT stem is this can be described because it’s, again, it’s, it’s quite a bit easier and it it’s, it’s a phenomenal foot in the door for someone, you know, finding your first job is always really the hardest. Job for anybody, right? Because if you don’t have prior experience, you haven’t been able to prove yourself.

It can be tough to show who you are and what you’re capable of. But if you’re able to do an internship or to be able to, you know, get on board and start to prove yourself, it’ll make the, you know, the transition to growing with an organization that much easier. Great. That’s really, really helpful, Matt. Just to reminder if you could actually pose all your questions to the Q and a instead of the chat, that’ll be easier for us to, to monitor.

So I can think, you know, for those that are, that are attending you know, I know some of you will have very specific questions and that’s okay. But also in some cases it may be a little bit easier to engage directly with the ice center. And for privacy reasons, you know, you may want to be just a little cognizant of the kind of questions they’re asking as well.

Within the Q and a, because it can be viewed by, by everyone. So we just want to be cognizant of that as well. So great. So next question. And then we’ll get to some of the questions within the Q and a as well. It’s really, you know, about how, how to stand out. As, as a candidate. So, you know, I can talk a little bit about this, but Kenny, Matt, please, please chime in is you know, imagine you started talking about this as, how do you actually advocate for yourself?

And then when it comes to the actual documents and application, how do you actually bring out your skills and your resume and so forth? W we’ll start there. I know we’ll probably have some questions about interviewing as well, but how do you blend that out in your resume and how do you actually start advocating for yourself when you’re.

Searching for our position. Whether it’s CP, whether you’re looking at a use CPT or opt, we look at it as sort of a bulky step process when you’re targeting a new opportunity. You know, we always. Say you want to begin with where you want to end up, right? So it’s targeting prospective employers that interest you and you know, where their jobs are, opportunities that, that most interests you.

And then you sort of, you know, build the plan backwards of how you’re going to get there. Right. So, you know, again, it’s understand, like you start, you want to join an Amazon or a Facebook or a large enterprise tech company, right. That’s a lot different than joining, you know, kind of a small, mid size local organization and in a place like Chicago, but either way, you know, you want to figure out where you want to end up and then create the path to get there.

So, you know, it does start with how you, how you market yourself. That’s largely through, you know, your resume, your maybe your online profile by having those really describe who you are, what your capabilities are, and then become kind of the, the foot in the door with an organization that’s most important.

You know, from there, you want to figure out how you’re going to, you know, best get in front of those organizations and then what you’re going to say and how you’re going to communicate with them to get there. So, you know, it’s kind of a multi-step process, but. You know, it all starts with, you know, a strong, well written resume, which is going to ensure the Illinois tech career services can, can help you with, but like, it really needs to talk about who you are, what your capabilities are you know, work or kind of practical experience, always trumps anything else so that the sooner and the more often you can get that the better.

And I think that kind of, you know, specifically, you know, so what you want to do is ideally. Build that resume earlier on in your college experience. Right? So if you’re a, you know, in your first or second year, and you can get an internship or you can get some project based work, that’s going to be highly, highly you know, helpful to, to how you, you know, how you get, you know, the full-time job you want, once you, once you do graduate, you know, again, if you’re on graduate waiting, now, you really want to.

I got to do whatever you can to highlight or emphasize, emphasize that experience. If you’re a little bit lighter on that than you’d like, that’s where you have to get a little bit more creative in terms of you know, finding an opportunity just to prove yourself. And again, that can be like, it’s not uncommon, especially in a market like this for companies.

To, you know, essentially start someone off as an intern or kind of starts them off on that. Like a project based assignment for that first one to three months, it’s just an opportunity to prove yourself. And that really ties into a lot of these concepts of the ease with which they can bring you on, where it doesn’t require a full visa or a full sponsorship or anything like that, where they have the, the window or the path to get to know them.

And you’ll get to see the work you can do over the one to two years while you’re, you know, Underneath this this 24 month window of opt, that’s really helpful. Matt. One thing, you know, a couple of things I would add to that one is as difficult as it seems you know, I would encourage you to be very Very concise in your job search and have a very directed job search as well.

The more that you can really apply your skills, showcase your skills to that specific employer, the better chance you’ll have of standing out as well. I think that’s key. I think, especially in these times A lot is it seems to me to give it I’ve met with, you know, I think their approach often is, well, let’s take a really big wide approach and let’s just get my resume out there all over the place.

And while, you know, in some cases, you know, you may get some hits out of that. I think that’s probably that that scattered approach is probably not the best use of your time. I think the more directed you can be in terms of tailoring your resume and any other subsequent materials, I think is really important in terms of your search.

So, yeah, just to piggyback on that too, that that’s definitely great advice. You know, as a, you know, recruiter or hiring person, it’s very clear when someone’s taking that sort of scattershot approach and, you know, and quite frankly, with, with the market, the way it is, you know, there’s hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications for an opportunity.

And if it’s just a blanket, you know, submission that didn’t take any sort of time or customization. You would have that much less lower likelihood of getting response. But if it’s clear that someone, you know, research and opportunity center, you know, a targeted message with who they are, why they’re interested in this opportunity, ideally drawing some sort of commonality there with some sort of shared interests.

You know, you have just a better chance or less likelihood of them getting an interview. And ultimately that’s really your goal of a resume in particular, but just kind of the application process in general. All it is, is an opportunity to talk about yourself and say who you are, explain to the company, why they should hire you and why they should take a chance.

And so, again, as she said, taking that, that targeted Taylor burden is going to be much more beneficial. And, you know, with that, like again, there’s there’s a lot of different ways to find jobs right now. By just randomly applying online. It’s. It’s okay. You clearly want to do that. And that should be one of the routes you take to sort of build your list of target companies, that interest you.

But from there you want to use the, all the different tools on the internet with LinkedIn being a great one to see, you know, do you know people at these organizations, are there other IIT alumni there anything, I mean, the unique thing you have when you’re an entry level, job seeker is it’s new. It’s kind of a, you know, everybody wants to help people out when they’re early in their career, especially if there’s some sort of commonality.

And if we went to the same college or, you know, we might be from the same hometown or the same. Country or even, you know, there’s a lot of different, you know, different ways you can draw parallels and sort of connect with people. And by again, by sending those sort of targeted tailored messages it can be helpful.

One specific concept we talk a lot about, and this is probably a, sort of a, a bit of a different concept, especially when you’re still in college, but, you know, we. We believe that you should, you know, you should target your job search, like a salesperson targets, you know, new clients. So, you know, you need to be very research oriented, meaning understand kind of what the market looks like and then who we can best target things towards.

And then who, who do you know, like at that organization, that’s your best bet of helping you get your foot in the door, that how do you send kind of a, you know, targeted, tailored message to that person that’s just infinitely more successful and more, you know, There’ll be a much higher return on your time where, you know, again, if you blindly send resumes, you have anywhere from like a one to 5% chance of kind of getting.

Hits on that. But if you take that targeted approach where it’s going to be, you know, five to 10 times more successful, that’s great advice, man. So well we got some questions that are that are coming up, so let’s get to some of the questions and then we’ll keep the conversation going. We’ll take this to about 1245 or 1250, just in terms of time, you know, for, for today.

So first question, and I think Kimmy, you address this. Is architecture now a stem major? I believe it is correct for you to be very sure that your specific major is stem. You may talk to your academic advisor, but I believe it was earlier in 2019 that a news press article went out and everything and Architecture and Institute of design are both stem majors with it.

We have had students from both majors apply for stem and there were approved for it. So we’re good. Okay, great. Great. Thank you. And that would apply to the bachelor’s of architecture degree as well. Correct? So, okay. That’s what I thought. So next question is pretty specific. You know, it’s related to EAD and.

I think I would echo what T said earlier for this person to please make an appointment with one of our advisors or to email Icenter@ . And I’ll put that in the chat for us, for everyone to see that that’s something that we want to work with you one-on-one on. So that’s not something that is appropriate for us to address in this, in this forum.

Yeah. Yeah. That makes, that makes a lot of sense. So please, you know, again talk to Kenny and her team about those really specific questions. Cause they, they are, they are here to help. Next question. I see this lot and this is, I think both you can, me and Matt questions, you know, regarding the job application, right?

So. Typically they’re online these days as a job application and so forth. And the question is, do you now, or in the future requires sponsorship yes or no. And what is the most appropriate answer for international students? So I guess, you know, often in some cases, those questions could come up during a career fair as well.

And so if you both want to kind of talk a little bit about it from your perspective, I certainly have some thoughts as well, but but certainly be interested in hearing from, from both of you. Yeah. Only because my perspective is a little limited. I always advise students that told the truth. As to your current situation.

So if you are a stem major and you do not require a sponsorship in the next three years, you don’t require sponsorship in the next three years. Because you have opt in, you have stem. I always also encourage that if there’s a space in the application to put comments, Specify in there that I am on opt plus, I will have stem in this EAD for the next three years.

After those three years, I may need sponsorship, FYI or something. But tell the truth. I don’t want anyone to be penalized for lying on an application. So those are the two things that I’ve normally told students, Matt, over to you. Okay. Yeah, and I, I, I was going to say the same thing. I wanted to make sure that we were on the same page.

Again, you always, you know, within a new job, you need to be straightforward. You need to be, you know, you’d never want to mislead people cause that’s just not a good way to start a relationship. The advice I take beyond that is, you know, you want to work as much as possible to get outside of the application process.

At least to start. I mean, eventually you’ll, you know, eventually that’s the way all jobs, you know, companies sort of get people onboarded, but like, you know, if there’s no, as Kenny said, there’s no opportunity to tell your story through a cover letter or even a comment section that you’re going to really be screened out in a lot of situations where you check that.

No, and there’s a, there’s a chance that nobody ever sees your resume. Right. And I can’t say that for sure. There may be a little bit of. Hyperbole, but I think there’s enough merit to it that you have to take it seriously. So you have to think creatively, or what are we going to do? How am I going to ensure that my resume gets on the desk of someone who can actually look at it and give me a chance?

So that’s where I, like I said, I think you want to sort of draw connections you have with that organization. And listen, there’s a, there’s a lot of different ways to do it. Clearly a warm connection is number one, and that means someone, you know, Who knows the person who was in the higher authority, then hand them your resume and say, Hey, hire this person because they’re great and they’d get economical fit.

But like, if you don’t have that warm connection, at least you’re better off kind of doing a cold connection where, you know, one thing we encouraged people to do is create kind of customized cover letters that talk a little about yourself and sort of why a company would, you know, should consider you.

And, you know, in that you can, you know, use your situation with you know, this opt in and use it as an advantage because frankly that’s really a trend that companies are going with. My hiring perspective is no, they may not want to, you know, the, they may not want to you know, to sponsor someone from day one, but you know, what they love is the opportunity to bring someone on for one to two to three years.

And after you’ve shown that ability that you’re a great employee in that time, they’re much, much more likely to invest the time and money because it’s so much harder to replace someone. Who’s got two to three years of practical experience with that, you know, with your organization versus, you know, the cost to sponsor it and actually put somebody through the green card process.

So again, like, you know, be straight forward, be honest, but like, if you feel that that box is, you know, is going to. You know, limit you from ever getting your foot in the door. You need to be a little bit more aggressive and you need to, can I go outside of the traditional, you know, the traditional black box ATS system to ensure the resume gets seen?

Great advice from, from both of you, I would wholeheartedly agree. And that’s part of the reason we’re doing this is really to, to have a better understanding of the process as well. And the perspective, you know, that, that the folks see from, from employers you know, next question is actually a A good question.

And it’s related to the job search, and maybe it’s a little bit more of a clarification for you, Kenny, as it relates to OPG and the . So for example, if someone is looking to go into the it, what is considered a, you know, a traditional it software company, how does that fit as someone is studying electrical engineering, for example, in terms of optional, practical training, if I’m understanding this question correctly, Yeah, this is a very good question.

It is a question that is as old as I’ve been in this profession students want to know is the job that I am about to step into directly related to my field of study. And I always answered in a way that it would sign a sieve. It doesn’t sound, it may not be what you want to hear, but let me, let me unpack that for a minute.

We. Our experts in immigration, but we’re not experts when it comes to architecture and marketing and electrical engineering, ITM, and all the majors that it or other schools have. Right. So sometimes students expect us to say yes or no, thumbs up, thumbs down. And that’s, that’s very hard. What I tell students as a measure of yes or no, is.

Are parts of your job, things that you learned while doing your degree holistically, right? Not just your major because in many schools else, as you’re doing your major, you took, you know, other classes that were tendentially related to your major. Right. But you have this one major listed on your transcript.

So as long as portions and parts of your job, Functions on a daily basis. I related to things that you studied in your major classes, you took papers, you wrote projects that you worked on. It is fine. The DSO’s or the advisors in my office were not it’s hard for us to make that determination, but that’s where we always defer to that.

You, as long as you’re seeing those things in your job functions on a day-to-day basis, That may be the answer to your question.

Very, very helpful. And Matt, from your perspective, did you come across this in terms of just reviewing resumes and so forth when we’re working with specific clients? Not as much. I mean, I can. Tell you like, it’s, you’re always going to have the it’s the path of least resistance. So the stronger your experiences in a particular area, the more likely you’re going to be able to get up, you know, get a job with that background.

But you know, I have not as experienced with sort of how that would apply to, you know, the OPQ years sort of, you know, the sponsorship. Okay, great. Great. Thank you. You will, the next question is actually, I think I’ll start with you, Matt and it’s related. In my mind about, you know, standing out as a candidate.

So the question is really, you know the, the person is being rejected based upon location. I’m not actually sure what that specifically means, you know, right off hand as I’m reading the question. But how do you convey this to them and resources during the initial comments? Yeah, I can speak to that too.

It’s interesting. Like. And I, I answered this in sort of two ends of the time spectrum in four to six months ago, this was a tremendous challenge because companies are just so much more likely to hire and interview and hire someone who is within, you know, A drive of their office, right? People just are more comfortable hiring people who are close by, who can interview on a day’s notice who can start in two weeks and don’t need a lot of the challenge logistically of moving.

Now the world is, I mean, to say the world has changed a lot in the last four months is obviously a bit of an understatement, but that is probably the number one change we’ve seen. So you have a greater ability to do that now. And then for these next six months than you ever have With that said it, I sort of take a common sense approach to it.

And the reason why companies are, you know, it’s purely the logistics of like, they’re just, they’re less, you know, as a recruiter, it’s, you know, especially if you’re, you know, you’re in a market where there’s a ton of talent, you’re going to be drawn to the five people who are within 30 miles and it can be in your office, you know, tomorrow afternoon for an interview versus someone who may be 2000 miles away.

So, you know, it’s tough. There’s not a simple answer, but I guess that, that is the one advantage of the world we live in now is companies are more apt to consider people anywhere, everywhere for a job, but, you know, assuming the world gets back to normal at some point in time, there’s kind of two answers.

One is you just make it extremely clear that you are not just, and this is a fine line between again, you always want us to tell the truth and be straightforward. But you want to make it clear, you were planning to move to this location, whether you get this job or not, because part of it where, you know, not only is it difficult to just quickly coordinate with someone who’s not physically there, but you have to, you know, you’ve put in a lot of time and effort for someone who’s frankly, maybe looking at five different cities, right?

Like, you know, so you want to, you’re interviewing if you’re applying to a role in Chicago and you live in Atlanta say, or, you know, I guess in a situation, but the flip side. But you want to make it clear why you’re looking to move that location, ideally that you have some sort of title or whether it’s family there and Hey, you know, I can, I can be there within three days for an interview and I can be there within two weeks and start.

I’ve got family there and I’ve got a place to stay or that will be signed, or any of these different things. Like if it’s clear that that’s one of seven different locations, you’re looking for, it’s going to be that much harder to have them take you seriously, seriously as a candidate. That’s helpful, Matt and I would echo that things have definitely changed pre pretty quickly.

I don’t think any of us, you know, in January could imagine. The type of conversations we’ve been having recently in terms of not only job search, but everything else as it has to do with COVID. So so thank you for sharing that. I’m going to try to get through this as quickly as Ken, and I apologize if we don’t get to all these questions.

But two really good questions for you, Kenny. Fairly specific, if you could address the timeline for opt as well. You know, I realized that individuals usually have three months to find a position, right. Once OTT starts the clock, so to speak. And the question is, what if there’s no positions?

If an individual is not able to secure a position what’s, what’s what’s next.

I mean, I’ll mute first. Let’s talk about timeline very generally. International students can apply for opt as early as 90 days before graduation, or as late as 60 days after graduation. Right? So as we head into the fall semester, the earliest you can apply is sometimes in September and then the late tests.

So to speak that you can apply would be early February, right? If you’re graduating December, 2020 if there are no paid positions on opt I specifically emphasize paid because I know that that would be the preference of anyone, myself included. What you can then do is go the route of unpaid, right?

Legally you are permitted to do a PT. The first portion of opt. The one that I said is for 12 months, you are permitted to do that. Unpaid stem can not be unpaid, but that’s a different conversation. So if you’re concerned about. You know, time is running out with opt be open initially to an unpaid position.

I started my career of 15 years, plus that you’re hearing me about today as an unpaid intern, I was ready to get into the field. And I, I didn’t care that it, in fact the internship that I first did was required for my masters and then the university that I worked for then said, Hey, we have an unpaid position at the front desk.

And I was like, sure. And then they offered me another unpaid position. And I was like, sure, I just, I wanted the experience. And then eventually, because I have all this unpaid, but still it was experience. I was able to talk about that in my end of interview. First paid position. So be willing be open, especially because COVID has happened.

Companies and employers have lost funding, they’ve lost, you know, things. So be open to unpaid positions as, as opposed to going back home in the shoe. Yeah.

You know, I was looking at that’s great advice, Kenny and I was looking ahead. I believe it, a future question or somebody had in chats Where that’s absolutely like, you know, right now it’s a, it’s a tough time to find a new job. Right. But there’s just, there’s no simple answer around it. I mean, the, the positive, I’d say, you know, I’ve been doing this at an extremely, incredibly long time.

I mean, we went from Q1, which was, you know, busy of a quarters. We’ve had to Q2 where it was just, you know, the, the bottom fell out of the market. And, you know, in, in like the space ring, I work with these, you know, kind of small midsize and frankly, large tech companies is still one of the most resilient ones, but just the, the level of drop we saw Q2 was, was unprecedented.

On the bright side, you know, as we’ve entered Q3, we’ve definitely seen an uptick. You know, I think unfortunately for like internships and or entry-level hiring that tends to lag a little bit behind the experience hiring. So it’s going to be tricky. Like there’s not, there’s not a simple, great, you know, here’s a silver bullet and you’re going to have, you know, plenty of job offers, but the best thing you can do is exactly what can we just set where the open group be creative, you know, in terms of, you know, to the person who asked about, you know, sending messages to it, blonde, but not having any success.

Taking a step further, like are the small, small projects, are there, you know, do they, is there anything you can do paid or unpaid? Of course everybody would rather be paid, but at this point you just, you have to get your foot in the door, you have to do whatever it takes to find a new opportunity. And it’s just, if it’s that vital to prove yourself and you know, it makes sense.

But what I always suggest people do is kind of look at the whole funnel. Like where are you? Where are you struggling the most? So you not getting any. You know, you’re not getting any interviews, then you need to look at argument. Who are you targeting? Is your messaging, right? Or you’re not like, you know, you’d have to rethink your resume or your outreach communication or anything like that, or how you’re describing yourself.

You know, if you’re getting the point, you’re actually, aren’t getting interviews. You’re just not getting offers. Are, do you need a little bit of help or a little bit of coaching on the interview process or how you sell yourself or how you position yourself to future employers? But you know, but also under strength and sand, it is just a challenging time.

And you know what we is telling people sorta every end of the spectrum, is it, it takes twice the work right now to unfortunately get half the results. So it’s not, it’s not a fun thing to hear, and I am very empathetic or sympathetic to anybody who’s graduating right now because it is a, an especially challenging time.

But you know, this will pass and you just have to work through it. And it’ll, you know, but you can’t let the market we’re in right now to find you because that is. Possible, right. Like it is going to be hard to find something and you have to work twice as hard to get that opportunity to ensure that three to five years from now, you’re in a great spot.

And it’s easy for that. Not to be the case because some people just lose the next six to 12 months because they’re struggling to find something. So you just have to do whatever it takes to get that experience that you’re putting the door and to stand out. That’s good advice, Matt. I would add to that, you know, definitely keep your options open, you know, at this stage you know, some folks may have a fairly narrow.

View of what they’re looking for. And I think especially given the circumstances and situation, I think it’s really important, especially now to keep those options open. I would also echo that on the career services side of things, we are starting to see things open up a little bit. You know I just remember you know, part of my role is relate to corporate relations and in March, when we basically all left campus, you know, The cost has dropped off for me in terms of the corporate relations connection side of things.

And they’ve gradually picked up, you know, to, to now where at least at steady, certainly not at the level where it was at prior, but it it’s been really interesting to kind of see the volume And so forth. And Ms. Wright, this time will pass. This is at least my third recession during doing this work to for academy.

Okay. We’re counting. But it will pass, it will pass. So stay, stay confident and definitely stay, stay hopeful. Got a few minutes remaining and I do want to just get one specific technical question. It’s where you, Kenny. As it relates to obtaining a social security number, I just think it’s, you know, it’s a good question related to work and so forth as well.

So. Yeah. So when you start CPT, which is color-coded practical training, you would approach the social security administration to ask for your social security number. And then they will issue to you. I think normally send it out two to three weeks later. However, if you never had an internship and you’re graduating this upcoming fall semester, when you apply for opt team you have the ability to apply for your EAD card and the shifter security at the same time.

So at some point I want to say late 2018, early 20, 19 both the social security administration and the U S government team finally. And they allow students who I do not have a social security number to apply for one at the same time. So again, if you’ve never had a number in the U S and you’re applying for opt, the question will be asked on the form.

Do you have a social security number? And if you say, no, you can then say yes to the next question, which would be you applying for that number. And that’s basically how you can apply for social security number. I will also add this, that because of COVID. I know that many of the social security administration offices closed down.

And what we were telling our students at the end of spring and early summer is that technically, and we do have this information on the ice center webpage. Technically your employer can start you working on an internship without a social security number. It’s a little bit technical. I’ll find the link and I’ll drop it in quickly.

But I, I want to say now that many of those social security administration offices are opening or already open, so you don’t have to do any kind of work around for that one. But yeah, that’s basically the gist of how you can obtain a social security number. Very helpful. Matt, I do want to, I. Get this question in the remaining time for, for you.

And it’s related to a question that we w we get a lot of, and it’s really regarding applicant tracking systems, ATS software. And the question is specifically how you can compare your resume with, with a job description. So if you could speak a little bit, you know, about ATS systems as well, and in the question map, so yeah, so that’s, you know, the, the question of, you know, view back about.

Clicking yes or no, whether you need, you know, sponsorship now or down the line, like those are information that along with your resume goes into an ETS or an applicant tracking system. So it’s, you’re the front end. You see a company that’s hiring, right? You see a job description, you know, you then apply.

I think at this point everybody’s seen that process. So that looking tracking system is what the recruiters work through to manage their hiring. And then oftentimes speeds. They’re another total employee system. You know, this is a space that’s come a long way over the last couple of years, but unfortunately it’s still not great.

So it’s very, you know, it’s very easy, you know, you apply for something you can go into, you know, a company’s ATS, but you know, there’s so much kind of automation and sort of, you know, sort of technical stuff that happens on the front end that like, That, that the odds of your resume being seen have become smaller and smaller.

So, you know, there, so, you know, there are tools in, and I mentioned the chat like, so crew is that the site we’ve launched and we’ll, you know, we’re going to do a combination of content, some, you know, some training, but also tools to help people at the job search process. And in one of the tools we have in the relaunching.

Is exactly that it’s called a resume refinery where basically you drop in your resume, dropping a drop as a job description and it’ll compare it’ll score it. So now, you know, it’s interesting, like I could go off on a pretty long tangent. I won’t on this concept. You know, an applicant tracking system is purely a gatekeeper.

You want to ensure that if you’re in there, you bubbled to the top you could also spend. Days trying to optimize a resume and kind of going crazy and the efforts to do so. Like you want to make sure there’s no glaring mistakes or omissions, right? You don’t want any typos. You want it to be a nice, clean, like easy to read, easy to follow and easily searched, you know, document.

So those are the key things. And if there’s a specific role that you’re interested in, you want to make sure that. Your resume’s going to do well enough that it doesn’t get, you know, knocked out by the, the, you know, the AI, the bots that are essentially doing any of the reviews. But, you know, again, that’s where I still circle back to that concept of, of doing whatever you can to frankly, avoid being just at the wind or the mercy of an ATS.

And sort of whomever is doing that first line of review, whether it’s, you know, Technology or kind of a low level recruiter that isn’t necessarily vested in you and kind of your career. Great advice. And certainly my office has some experience with a ATS system. Assuming we’d certainly be happy to address any more questions relate to that.

I do want to make a quick plug for a new resource that we have coming out with probably by early August, mid August at the latest. And that’s V mock. We’re bringing that out for our, for our current students and recent alumni. So V Mac will allow you to get real time feedback on your resume and a feedback score as well.

So it’s something we’re offering. And, and hopefully that’s gonna really help Lead to better conversations when you meet with, with our advisors as well. And really helped you in terms of tailoring your resume to the areas that you’re seeking. So we’re really happy to be able to offer that so more to come on that within a few weeks.

So we’re at the end of our time, but I want to ask Kenny, Matt, if you have any last words and I apologize, we didn’t get to all the questions, again, reach out to 10 year myself. When you specific questions relate to the university and I’m sure Matt, you know, your information is available as well.

And but any last words, you know, Kemi, Matt that you, that you’d like to share with the group. Just to answer some of the questions I saw. Yes. The recording will be available. I think T’s office would make that available through handshake for anyone who registered to be able to watch. And then last secondly, if you have any.

The specific questions related to yourself, your status, what you should do when to do it, please do reach out to the international center. We are still working remotely. We advise four days a week. We’re answering the phones virtually where answering our emails as well. We are here to assist you. And then once the fall semester starts, there will be dedicated opt workshops.

Again, virtually that you can watch where. We will go over the timelines of opt and stem in detail. We spent about an hour and a half doing it, and then we’ll also take questions virtually. So this is not the end of it. Today be on the lookout for, we would host those opt workshops. I want to say once a month for the fall semester, we normally do it in person, but now that it’s virtual we may even be able to do it more.

But again, thank you for attending today. Stay strong. You will get through this. We promise you will. All right. That’s it. Thank you for me. Thank you, Kenny. Matt, any last words? Yeah, I think Kemi hit on a lot of key points. As you know, as we said, it’s a challenging time, but you know, you’re. You’re in a unique situation where you have a lot of resources, like you have to take advantage of them between T and [00:49:00] Kemi and the whole, you know, Illinois tech career services, you know, they’re great.

They know what they’re doing, you know, I, think I can’t what I can’t underemphasize. It just. The time and effort you can put into this, right? It’s, you’ve worked hard to get where you are, you know, by, you know, allocating 10 to 15 hours a week for these next, until you find the next opportunity, that’s worth it.

Like, you know, and so that means two to three to four hours, a day of research of communication, second goals set, you know, set kind of, what do you want to do? You want to, you know, you want to reach out to 20 to 30 new places a week. You want to have. You know, five to six interviews, whether they’re informational or not do whatever you can there.

Like I said, it’s hard work and it probably gets a lot of people out of their sweet spot, whether they’re. You know, no matter where they’re from or what their situation is, but, you know, I think in general, when you’re 19 to 22 years old, like it’s not in your sweet spot to kind of be this aggressive with kind of going after and doing things, but that’s just, it’s really the only answer.

And you just hard and, and, you know, it’ll pay off is the number one thing I can say. Yeah, it will pay off. So special, thanks to Matt and Kenny, you know, for attending, I guess that’s a virtual handshake that I’ll give you. Thanks for taking the time and thank you to all of you for really taking the time to attend today as well.

We know you have a lot going on and a lot to consider again, we’re available to assist. We didn’t get to all the questions. But please reach out for any other specific questions that you may have. So thank you again. And this will conclude our webinar for today, so thank you. All right.

Thank you. Okay. Bye-bye.


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